XTC-where to start?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Etienne Hanratty, Jan 5, 2018.

  1. Etienne Hanratty

    Etienne Hanratty Forum Resident Thread Starter

    XTC are one of those bands I keep thinking I should explore but never have and I’m wondering where best to start. As far as I know, I’ve only heard five of their songs. In order of preference, these are (1) Grass, which I really liked the one time Mark Radcliffe played it, (2) Senses Working Overtime, a classic pop song, (3) Making Plans For Nigel, which didn’t quite add up to the sun of its parts for me, (4) Stupidly Happy, a pretty good tune for a band nearly a quarter century into its career but no more than that and (5) The Disappointed, which did nothing for me when Simon Mayo made it his record of the week and which has deterred me from investigating further till now, even though it was probably far better than the stuff I did like in the early nineties.

    What album would people recommend I start with? I’m relatively flexible but would prefer a proper album to a greatest hits package and would ideally want it on vinyl. Bucolic fine, arch not so much. Any suggestions?

    George Co-Stanza likes this.
  2. "Mummer", if that doesn't hook you, well...
    usrlocal and Guy E like this.
  3. jfire

    jfire Beatles and Jazz Know-if-All

    Go to the record store. Buy all their albums.
  4. timind

    timind Don't blame me

    Westfield, IN USA
    Oranges And Lemons is the first XTC album I bought and it was the beginning of a great love affair for me.
    theMess, RedPines, seaisletim and 5 others like this.
  5. GodShifter

    GodShifter Negative Creep®

    Dallas, TX, USA
    Oranges and Lemons is the only album I like. Check out some Dukes of Stratosphere.
  6. misterdecibel

    misterdecibel Bulbous Also Tapered

    I'd start with "Black Sea", it's sort of the bridge between the earlier "new wave" XTC and the later "pop masters" period, with plenty of vestiges of the former and hints of the latter.
    Royce, woody, theMess and 23 others like this.
  7. Tristero

    Tristero Forum Resident

    Given that you liked "Grass", I'd definitely recommend Skylarking, which many of their fans regard as one of their peak accomplishments. Without knowing more about your personal tastes, I can't really say, but you may want to check out more of their earlier post-punk output (particularly Drums & Wires, Black Sea and English Settlement) as well as their psychedelic period (Skylarking, Oranges & Lemons, Dukes of Stratosphere).
    theMess, Elliott908, gohill and 4 others like this.
  8. cincyjim

    cincyjim Forum Resident

    Cincinnati, Ohio
    XTC's five-album run of Skylarking, Oranges & Lemons, Nonsuch, Apple Venus, and Wasp Star is about as good as it gets. :)
  9. Ash76

    Ash76 Senior Member

    You can start anywhere except probably the first 2 albums if only because they're not a very good indicator of where the band was headed.
  10. danner

    danner Forum Resident

    Birmingham, AL
    Drums & Wires is the one that hooked me in, but since you like "Grass" the best, Skylarking is probably the one to start with.
    theMess, Joti Cover, Dodoz and 4 others like this.
  11. Instant Dharma

    Instant Dharma Elliptical Envelopment

    East Bay, Ca
    I second Skylarking.

    Then English Settlement of Black Sea. Really you cant go wrong with D&W to O&L.
  12. Mr. D

    Mr. D Forum Resident

    You could always go with a compilation like Fossil Fuel: The XTC Singles 1977–92
    theMess, Tree-bot, Limopard and 6 others like this.
  13. vince

    vince Stan Ricker's son-in-law

    -Illegally download ALL their albums (there's only like, what 11?....12?)
    -Hear how wonderful they are.
    -Feel guilty that you illegally downloaded them
    -Buy them all!
  14. Paul Gase

    Paul Gase Everything is cheaper than it looks.

    English Settlement and Skylarking are their two best albums. I shade towards to ES because, even though its 80's, its a pretty earthy production. Drums sound real; Colin's fretless bass is a highlight, as is David Gregory's turn on Ric 12 string. Skylarking is a tighter album. I am not sure it has aged as well. A comp of their first four (White Music, Go 2, Drums and Wires, Black Sea), plus singles and b-sides is pretty essential into understanding the band's evolution. Dukes of Stratosphear is pretty essential as well. Love my XTC...
  15. Jimbino

    Jimbino Goad Kicker, Music Lover

    San Jose, CA, USA
  16. privit1

    privit1 Forum Resident

    If you like grass then work backwards and forwards from that album.
    Alternatively try to get hold of fossil fuel and decide what era you like from there.
    I Think there is one thing everyone can agree on with xtc there is no definitive album.
    MoonPool and linclink like this.
  17. DonnyMe

    DonnyMe Forum Resident

    NW Indiana
    I would recommend starting with Drums and Wires and proceed from there. It lays the foundation. This is where XTC really starts to get their sound. It just gets better from there. You get to see them mature and get refined. I started at English Settlement and then Mummer before going back to D&W and Black Sea. All of the XTC albums that have been remixed by Steve Wilson are highly recommended. If you take some time and savor each one you'll get a pallet full of yummy goodness. Happy listening!
  18. live evil

    live evil Forum Resident

    The local hard rock station played “Gentals and Makors” back in the day,and it changed my musical tastes.

    Go for “Black Sea.”
    bzfgt likes this.
  19. ermylaw

    ermylaw Forum Resident

    Kansas City
    I’d go with English Settlement.
    Talisman954 and patient_ot like this.
  20. Leepal

    Leepal Forum Resident

    Swindon, UK
    Interesting that some people prefer their later stuff, but for me it's Black Sea, Drum & Wires and English Settlement. From what the OP has said I'd start with ES.
  21. SJB

    SJB Beloved Parasitic Nuisance

    The OP did say he'd prefer a regular album over a compilation. The best argument for Fossil Fuel is that the band's style changed radically over the years, and different people will prefer different eras.

    As for core albums, I vote Skylarking. It's the album that introduced me to the band. Lots of moods, great flow, definitely worth the significant labor pains preceding its birth. I really like Drums & Wires too, but if the OP didn't like "...Nigel," then that may not be an ideal starting point.
    ToneLa and linclink like this.
  22. Instant Dharma

    Instant Dharma Elliptical Envelopment

    East Bay, Ca
    Transistor Blast.
    ramdom and scott palmiter like this.
  23. misterdecibel

    misterdecibel Bulbous Also Tapered

    25 O'Clock
  24. seacliffe301

    seacliffe301 Forum Resident

    Drums & Wires.
    Joti Cover, ramdom and MattyRedSox like this.
  25. Shriner

    Shriner Forum Resident

    Ann Arbor, MI, USA
    English Settlement was my gateway, then I went forward, then backward. I'd start there (because you liked "Senses Working Overtime") as it was the album where they really started becoming a "studio" band.

Share This Page